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Top seed Kirtland Central beats Gallup in 4A semis, Farmington girls come up short in 5A

Top seed Kirtland Central beats Gallup in 4A semis, Farmington girls come up short in 5A

ALBUQUERQUE

A fast start and a gritty defensive effort put the Kirtland Central girls basketball team in the Class 4A state finals.

The top-seeded Lady Broncos (28-3) raced to a 12-0 lead and dispatched archrival Gallup, 61-47, on Thursday afternoon at the University of New Mexico’s Pit in Albuquerque.

The Broncos will take on No. 2 seed St. Pius X at 7 p.m. Friday. The Lady Sartans defeated No. 3 seed Artesia, 61-41, in Thursday’s other semifinals.

“It feels good, but we didn’t come here to just play in it,” KC coach Devon Manning said of reaching the state title game. “You know, these girls battled. They had to go through a lot this year. That was the fifth time playing Gallup and that’s tough to do, you know, to come out on top, especially in this type of environment where it’s a 50/50 crowd.

“Anything can go but the girls jumped on them early,” he said.

Defensively, KC forced the Lady Bengals, the defending state champs, into 27 turnovers. Of those turnovers, 19 were steals as KC scored 26 points off steals.

“With our matchup with Gallup we thought our guards were a little better than theirs,” Manning said. “We thought we were a little faster than they were, but everything you see on the court today, we practice that all the time whether it’s the trapping or the full court defense.”

“They had real good active hands,” Gallup coach Todd McBroom said of KC. “They got their hands on a lot of balls, and deflections leads to turnovers. That is what I preach all the time, and they did that better than us tonight.”

The Broncos nailed three early treys to go up 9-0 and extended that lead to 12-0 with an old-fashioned three-point play from freshman Elaina Clani with 3:16 remaining in the opening quarter.

Gallup (23-9) closed the deficit to 16-10 at the start of the second stanza with an inside bucket from junior post Rylie Whitehair, who led the Bengals with 16 points and 18 rebounds.

But KC eighth-grade guard Allyson Tsosie found a rhythm behind the three-point arc. Tsosie nailed three consecutive treys in a four minute-stretch that helped KC to a 33-21 halftime lead.

For the first half, the Broncos hit six treys while Gallup struggled, missing all of its 12 shots from beyond the three-point arc.

“It was one of those things to where the ball couldn’t find the basket,” McBroom said. “It’s tough when it’s an elimination game.”

Behind a 14-6 run, Gallup cut that 12-point deficit down to 39-35 following a basket by freshman forward Kaden Tsosie (13 points) with just over three minutes left in the third stanza.

That was as close as the Bengals would come as KC cashed in a couple of steals for a 48-37 lead heading into the fourth.

The KC lead never dipped below nine in the final stanza as Gallup was forced to foul late in the contest. The Broncos reached the state finals for the third straight year by making 5-of-8 free throws.

Tsosie led KC with a game-best 22 points and four treys while senior guard Emilia Clani added 10 and senior post Keira Beall-Gleason chipped in nine.

Farmington

The Farmington girls led for a majority of the game but could not preserve a 12-point, third-quarter lead as district rival Sandia rallied for a 61-58 win in the first of two 5A semifinal games played at the Pit on Thursday morning.

“They stepped up and made some good plays,” Farmington coach Thomas Adair said of Sandia. “Give them some credit, they made some shots and they got some turnovers from us and that’s just basketball.

“Sometimes things go your way and sometimes it don’t,” he added. “A couple of shots that should have went in didn’t go in for us. And shots that probably shouldn’t have gone in for them went in for them. They shot lots of free throws.”

Early on the Scorps fed the ball to junior post Ayana Toledo for an 8-2 cushion. Behind four points from sophomore Caris Dale Farmington pushed its lead to 14-7 heading into the second.

Navajo Times | Quentin Jodie
Farmington Lady Scorpion Ayana Toldeo (40) puts up a shot on Sandia’s Nadia Randall (33) in the Class 5A state semifinal game on Friday at the Pit in Albuquerque. Farmington fell short by a 61-58 count.

The Scorps then got some superb shooting from senior Maleah Charlie as she nailed three treys in the second period for a 28-19 halftime cushion.

“I feel like we do well on defense when we rotate but (Farmington) was taking advantage of making that extra pass for a better shot,” Sandia guard Sydney Benally said. “Hats off to Maleah for hitting those treys.”

In the second half Farmington opened up a 38-26 cushion behind back-to-back baskets from Dale with 5:29 left in the third period.

Sandia, however, used a quarter-ending 22-14 run and cut Farmington’s lead down to 52-48 heading into the fourth.

The Matadors opened the fourth quarter on a 7-0 run for a 55-52 advantage. The Scorps regained the lead at 56-55 on a basket by sophomore Kjani Anitielu with 4:32 left.

The lead changed hands two more times with Farmington taking its last lead at 58-57 when senior guard Maleah Charlie hit an inside jumper with 3:38 left in the contest.

A minute later, Sandia junior guard Audri Wright tied the contest by hitting 1-of-2 free throws.

Wright then scored the game-winner with 24 seconds left on an open three-pointer. At the other end, Farmington senior Kapiolani Anitielu had her game-tying three rim out.

“It feels good,” Wright said. “This is what we’ve been working for. We started out slow, but at the end it went our way.”

Benally, who has roots in the Shiprock area, led Sandia with a game-best 29 points. Benally scored 13 of those points in the first half.

For Farmington, Charlie led the Scorps with 15 points. Dale added 14 points and Kapiolani Anitielu chipped in 13 with1 2 rebounds.

“Caris has played really well for us all year long,” Adair said while adding that Charlie and Kapiolani were instrumental in leading the team this year.

“I’m really proud of these two seniors,” the Farmington coach said. “Maleah stepped up big time for us today. I know she was a little frustrated with her shooting against Organ Mountain but, boy, did she recover today.

“Sugar (Kapiolani) played a great game,” he added. “She had a heck of a game and she’s been doing that all year long.”

Farmington finished the season at 26-5 overall.


About The Author

Quentin Jodie

Quentin Jodie is the Sports Editor for the Navajo Times. He started working for the Navajo Times in February 2010 and was promoted to the Sports Editor position at the end of summer in 2012. Previously, he wrote for the Gallup Independent. Reach him at qjodie@navajotimes.com

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